We’re writing to share some difficult news with you today. Less than two weeks ago, we discovered that one of our staff members (Daniel Meadows, a Campus Operations Specialist and Executive Assistant) had been systematically abusing his access to church resources. He was immediately terminated from our staff and an ongoing internal investigation has uncovered more than $100,000 in fraudulent and personal purchases using church accounts. Law enforcement has been informed, but the extent and full scope of this abuse has yet to be determined.
We’re informing you of this today because we always want to be transparent with you. As a church staff, integrity is one of the most important values we have, and we take any breach of that trust seriously. Our staff has long been supervised by a system of yearly external audits and internal financial controls. It was one of these checks that helped our business operations team uncover this theft.
We passed our most recent external audit this spring, but no system or safeguard is 100% effective against a determined employee. Despite our rigorous safeguards, Daniel was in a unique position to exploit the system by spreading dozens of purchases across different budget lines and disguising his behavior behind events and other complex projects. Our external auditing firm has now suggested a few ways for us to strengthen our internal controls, and we’re putting their suggestions into place immediately. It’s only natural to wish this theft would’ve been caught sooner, but we are thankful that the truth has come out. It may be some time before the investigations into this situation are complete, but we will inform you of the results when it’s time to pursue next steps.
As you can imagine, this news has been devastating to our staff. We find ourselves seeking justice for the financial abuse that’s taken place, but also seeking mercy and healing for a brother who has fallen prey to sin. Join us in praying for Daniel and his family in the days ahead.
Even in the early pages of Genesis, Scripture tells us that sin “crouches at the door, waiting to become your master.” We want to leave you with the same charge we gave to our staff last week: We are all vulnerable to sin, and no one is immune from letting little compromises turn into habitual sin that will wreck your life. Confess your sins to each other, be excellent at what is good, and be innocent of evil. Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life.
We’ll share more with you once the investigations are complete.
Since this is an ongoing investigation, we are cooperating with law enforcement in both the investigation and communication regarding the investigation. Any new information about the situation will be published on our website and emailed to our members.
Although our annual audit and financial safeguards are extensive, no system is 100% foolproof.
This employee operated in a unique position on staff where they were able to hide their behavior across purchases of various sizes and many different budget lines; most of the fraudulent purchases occurred when they could be disguised in the budgets of large events or complex projects where similar legitimate purchases were being made.
Although these actions were well-hidden, our existing safeguards caught this behavior, and our external auditors have recommended a few additional measures since this event that we’re implementing immediately.
Long Hollow is led by several leadership teams, both staff-based and through various councils of elected laypeople that cycle on a regular basis. This provides a thorough system of checks and balances and accountability for major decisions.
Purchasing decisions are made by individual ministry teams and overseen by several layers of ministry leaders. Typically each team can only make purchases through their own ministry budget line.
(In this circumstance, an employee abused their unique position on staff to conceal their behavior across many budget lines and projects, which disguised the theft from most systems and audits for a time.)
We plan to update our website with a full overview of these processes in the coming days.
If you have further questions about this issue, please email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.